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Methodology

This salary guide focuses on the information technology, human resources, marketing and accountancy & finance sectors.
The information has been drawn from several sources. We have analysed data from over 3,400 organisations, 21,000 registered jobs, 350,000 recently active candidates, ONS data and external data sources that the Ashdown Group subscribes to.

Salary data is presented as lower quartile, median and upper quartile against basic salary, without the inclusion of bonuses or benefits packages. Each percentile relates to a different level of experience and industry sector. The data is only intended to be used as a guide and is based on average salaries.

If you would like to find out more about how your salaries compare to others in the market, we offer our clients bespoke individual salary reports for a precise salary assessment, based on industry, geography, competition, job role and company size.

Employment Market Trends

Soaring demand and rising costs

Throughout the first half of 2022, demand for candidates soared to an all-time high, plateauing in mid-summer as businesses scrambled to meet growth plans. Since then, we have seen a gentle cooling of the job market as economic pressures and market volatility eroded business confidence in the second half of the year, in line with ONS* job market data.

However, demand for staff within knowledge industries is still outstripping supply, meaning salary inflation for roles in these areas is above the national average within the private sector of 6.6%*.

With unemployment at its lowest since 1974 and a shortage of key skills, employers are under pressure to raise salaries to retain their teams and attract new employees.

This, combined with rising costs and a looming recession, presents a huge challenge for CEOs, creating what we are calling ‘the big squeeze’. This pressure is likely to keep building, with the cost-of-living crisis making employees keen to seek better paid jobs in 2023.

*Source: Office for National Statistics Nov 2022 report

The cost-of-living crisis

The cost-of-living crisis will have a profound effect on businesses in 2023, with an increase in salary becoming the primary reason for seeking a new job. Most UK incomes will drop in real terms, with increased taxation, a freezing of the personal allowance, and high inflation all having an impact.

How is this being addressed by employers?

A large proportion of employers in the UK are taking a more active interest in employee wellbeing, including financial wellbeing, as part of a broader employee engagement initiative to support their teams through the cost-of-living crisis. Building on their existing benefits package, employers are looking for additional ways to offer support to their teams, including:

  • Introduction of employee assistance programmes (EAP) that support staff with financial wellbeing, and access to free financial advice, training, and debt management services
  • Increasing salaries to keep up with inflation
  • 0% interest crisis management loans
  • Upskilling employees, supporting professional development and salary increases.
  • Subsidised meals
  • One off cost of living bonuses to support gas and electricity prices across the winter months
  • Offering additional work-from-home options to reduce commuting costs and subsidised travel
  • Introduction of workplace stress management programmes.

Growth in knowledge industry skills

As we enter 2023, demand for skilled professionals within our sectors still outstrips available talent. This level of demand will maintain an upward pressure on salaries. However, we predict smaller salary increases across the board next year, with inflation expected to fall after its 2022 peak.

The Bank of England expects unemployment to rise by 500,000 in 2023, but with the majority of professional-sector employers still struggling to fill certain roles we do not predict unemployment growth within our sectors.

However, we do expect to see a softening of job creation, with faltering growth meaning companies will look to upskill their existing teams instead of hiring new people.

With tightening budgets, depressed revenues, and inflation cooling, we predict an equivalent slowdown in salary inflation – however, hard-to-fill positions will see above-average salary growth. It is important to note that government reported inflation tracks the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and this is predicted to be 7% in 2023. However the cost of living, if we include mortgage repayments which are not included in the CPI, will exceed this figure. The current predicted Retail Price Index (RPI) which includes mortgage repayments and therefore a more realistic measure of what most employees will face in our sectors is above 10% for 2023.

The OBR Fiscal and Economic outlook produced in November 2022 suggests a drop off of inflation during 2023, falling to zero by 2025.

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Culture and environment

With a highly competitive job market, companies have been looking at innovative approaches to attract and retain employees, with an increased focus on wellbeing and purpose via ESG (environmental, social, and governance) schemes.

Flexible working and hybrid work environments are now an expectation for many employees.

2022 has seen employees focus on the purpose of the organisations they work for. There is growing pressure on companies to ensure they are sharing and communicating company values and demonstrating their impact on society, with employees finding it increasingly important that their employers act ethically and with integrity. Any business that ignores these factors will lose out when looking to attract new talent. Diversity, sustainability and minimising impact on the environment are all key factors for candidates looking for new roles.

Media stories flagged the growth of so-called ‘quiet quitting’ – doing the bare minimum at work - gaining momentum as a trend online in 2022, but this is not something we’ve observed in our network.

Following years of pandemic lockdowns that involved 100% remote working, the preferred hybrid model, favoured by most employers and employees, is two to three days in the office per week. Employees are pushing for a more balanced life, while employers are seeking the benefits of collaborative face-to-face time. Businesses insisting on Monday to Friday office-based work are accessing a much smaller talent pool, or having to pay as much as 10% more to attract new talent.

With pay historically higher in London and the South East, salaries are now becoming more consistent across the regions as remote working becomes the norm - especially within hard to fill positions. This is putting regional businesses under pressure, with many struggling to hire.

As a result of these cost pressures, more businesses are being forced to consider outsourcing their hard to find roles.

How are UK employers attracting talent?

Matching inflation with a significant increase in base salary is the obvious first step. But what else are UK businesses doing to secure top talent?

  • Focusing on employer branding: Employers are actively promoting their purpose, mission and values.
  • Improving career path development: Creating structured and clearly defined career progression routes and training opportunities.
  • Increasing flexible working: 10% of businesses in the UK offer a fully remote model, while 15% are asking employees to work full time in the office. The remaining 75% offer flexibility, with the right balance for most falling somewhere in between the two.
  • Focusing on wellbeing: Businesses are defining and communicating their commitment to employee wellbeing.
  • Considering innovative approaches: Some are exploring condensed working weeks, moving towards an output-based measurement of success.
  • Prioritising speed: Businesses are also committing to faster selection processes.
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